The Most Important Fact About the Singapore Summit
The deescalation we're seeing now is infinitely preferable to the needless escalation we witnessed last summer.
The most important fact about the Trump-Kim summit is that less than a year ago both of these men sounded like they were ready to launch a nuclear war. For anyone who gives a rat's ass about the millions of people who would die in such a conflict, the difference between then and now is as welcome as it is stark. If you're not pleased with that shift—if you're firing off tweets about what a "propaganda victory" it is for Kim to share a stage with a U.S. president (as if such trivial status games are what's important here) or why Donald Trump is supposedly Neville Chamberlain (because Munich is one of the two or three moments in diplomatic history that you're vaguely aware of)—then your priorities are desperately askew. The deescalation we're seeing now is infinitely preferable to the needless escalation we witnessed last summer.
Is it gross for a president to flatter a vile dictator? Yes. But let's be clear: Presidents flatter vile dictators all the time. (Google "Saudi Arabia.") At least in this case there's the hope of cooling off those nuclear tensions, and of boosting rather than undermining South Korea's push for peace. Trump is even skylarking about perhaps one day pulling America's troops out of the peninsula. I'll believe that when I see it, but it's surely better to have it on the rhetorical table than to have it be as unthinkable to the president as it is to the foreign-policy Blob.
Yes, the Bolton-Pence sabotage caucus could still crash this in countless ways. None of this is irreversible, and we may reach a day when the Korean peace process is as depleted as the diplomatic initiatives Trump smothered in Iran and Cuba. But for now the trajectory is in the right direction. The issue that last year looked like it could turn into the worst legacy of the Trump presidency now has a chance to be the bright spot. If nothing else, there is at least one way that life in June of 2018 is better than life in August of 2017.